Stradbally 0-19 Portlaoise 2-10
Laois Shopping Centre Division 1A
Tom Shiel kicked six points as Stradbally moved up to fourth place in Division 1A following a three point win over Portlaoise tonight in Rathleague.
The centre forward was in top form in what will be his final game for the Little Town until mid-August as he heads off to the USA shortly to play football over there for the summer.
Going into to the game, Stradbally knew that one more win would almost certainly make their Division 1A status safe for another year and they began well with a Podge Fitzpatrick point.
Portlaoise were playing against the wind in the first half but they replied in devastating fashion with a goal. Keeper Wayne Comerford did brilliantly to deny Scott Lawless but the ball fell to Kevin Fitzpatrick who finished from close range.
Tom Shiel responded with his first free of the evening but Ricky Maher then kicked a brace for Portlaoise to move them 1-2 to 0-2 ahead after 10 minutes.
Colm Kelly (2) and Dillon pointed for Stradbally but Portlaoise had a second goal after 17 minutes when Kevin Fitzpatrick this time turned provider for Adrian Kelly to tap home from close range.
The Town managed just two more points from Ricky Maher and Scott Lawless before half time while Stradbally set about reeling their opponents in.
Shiel (2), Dillon and Podge Fitzpatrick all dissected the posts but the Little Town still trailed by 2-5 to 0-9 at the break.
Nevertheless, Stradbally wiped out Portlaoise’s advantage within a minute of the restart thanks to John Donohue and Podge Fitzpatrick.
Conor Dunphy put Portlaoise back in front after 32 minutes but that would prove to be the final time that they would hold the lead in the affair.
Conor Delaney kicked Stradbally level and they registered the next three points courtesy of Dillon, Shiel and Justin Lalor to move into a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
Portlaoise drew the margin back to one thanks to Kevin Fitzpatrick and Adrian Kelly but the gap was back out to three as we entered the final 15 minutes as Jody Dillon and Podge Fitzpatrick scored from distance.
Scott Lawless grabbed his second point but Shiel kicked a brace of frees to put Stradbally four points ahead with as many minutes to play.
Conor Dunphy pointed to set up a tense finish and Portlaoise almost snatched a draw with the final action when Shane Smyth’s deflected shot went towards Aaron Rafter but his effort off the side of his outstretched boot just went wide.
SCORERS – STRADBALLY: Tom Shiel 0-6 (0-5frees), Jody Dillon (0-2frees) and Podge Fitzpatrick 0-4 each, Colm Kelly 0-2, John Donohue, Justin Lalor and Conor Delaney 0-1 each PORTLAOISE: Ricky Maher 0-4 (0-1free), Kevin Fitzpatrick and Adrian Kelly 1-1 each, Scott Lawless (0-1free) and Conor Dunphy 0-2 each
STRADBALLY: Wayne Comerford; Eamon Conlon, Liam Knowles, Justin Lalor; Jack Langton, Stephen Lawlor, John Donohue; Darren Maher, Conor Delaney, Podge Fitzpatrick, Tom Shiel, Damien Murphy; Benny Lawlor, Jody Dillon, Colm Kelly. Subs: Derek Beale for B. Lawlor (55mins)
PORTLAOISE: Richard Downey; David Holland, Ronan Molloy, Darragh McAuley; Chris Finn, Dean Cullen, Jack Brown; Ciarán McEvoy, Adrian Kelly; Conor Dunphy, Benny Carroll, Shane Smyth; Ricky Maher, Scott Lawless, Kevin Fitzpatrick. Subs: Aaron Rafter for Cullen (36mins)
Referee: David Moore (St Joseph’s)
READ MORE: All of Sunday’s Laois GAA results